Michelle Wright writes for East Life

16 November 2020 | By Michelle Wright

What's to become of our charities?

Many of East Anglia’s charities have been hit hard. Some have been forced to close their retail outlets, most have had to cancel fundraising events, and all have struggled to deliver services due to lockdown regulations. However, despite the challenges, there have been local charities using their ingenuity and resourcefulness to find ways to raise money and to reach out to their communities. Whether that’s by adapting to provide services online or reaching out to new groups of donors, we can all take a leaf from their books.

What are you doing online?

Whatever the service, most charities can find ways to provide help virtually. Survivors in Transition, for example, is providing virtual therapy services for beneficiaries, whilst St John’s Ambulance made all training available online for both staff and volunteers. Closer to home, Falcon Meadow Community Trust, a Norfolk/Suffolk environmental charity, moved its entertaining sponsored plastic duck race online, using videos and live streaming to raise funds.

It’s tricky without the digital-know-how. According to the Charity Digital Skills Report, 27% of charities cancelled their services this year because of a lack of ICT skills. It’s a pity in the short-term and also doesn’t bode well for the future. But there are support programmes available for charity staff to improve their digital skills. It’s time to learn what you need to take things digital.

Adapt and keep going

I’ve been inspired by the charities that have adapted during Covid-19. As the ongoing threat of repeated lockdowns keeps us a long way from returning to how things used to be, it’s vital that charities address the need to change. In East Anglia, Blue Cross Suffolk, an animal rehoming charity near Ipswich, set up virtual adopting and rehoming services. Through videos, they’ve showcased their own expertise and provided useful insight, all the time encouraging potential adoptors to meet and spend time with the animals.

Help is available

If your charity or the charity you support is a heritage organisation, which includes local museums, parks, landscapes, heritage buildings, even places of worship, there is a new programme that might be able to help. From November 2020, 150 small or medium-sized English Heritage organisations will be given free training and mentoring to help them develop effective business plans, devise income strategies and get the knowledge they need to respond to the big changes that continue to affect visitors and donors. It’s a two-year programme of training and mentoring. Interested charities should get in touch with Cause4 to find out more.

This article was originally published in East Life Winter 2020. 

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